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Mothers Visit U.S. Detainees In Iran


Laura Fattal (right), Nora Shourd (center), and Cindy Hickey hold roses upon their arrival in Tehran.
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- The mothers of three Americans jailed in Iran since last July were allowed to see them today and called on the government to set them free.

Wearing the head scarves required under Iran's Islamic dress code, the mothers held the hands of their adult children during a meeting in a hotel in northern Tehran where they spoke to reporters.

Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 31, and Josh Fattal, 27, were arrested on suspicion of spying after they entered Iranian territory.

They said they had strayed over the border by mistake while hiking in northern Iraq. The arrests further complicated relations between old adversaries Tehran and Washington, which are facing off over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"Please, please, please let them out," Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey, said to journalists, adding that a gesture of clemency would show Iran in a good light.

The detainees are being held in Tehran's notorious Evin jail. They told reporters they had generally been treated well, although Shourd said she had been kept in isolation.

They said they had not been formally charged and had not been given any indication of what would happen to them next.

The United States has no diplomatic relations with Iran. Swiss diplomats represent U.S. interests there and the Swiss ambassador has accompanied the mothers on their trip to Tehran -- a visit the Iranian government authorized as a humanitarian gesture.